“Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.” We all know the saying, yet instead of acting upon it, many of us waste time and money on the insignificant (and short term) things in life.
With the rise of social networks, dating apps, and streaming video platforms, our attention span has gotten ever more goldfish-esque — we’ve become addicted. Life’s one big slot machine, and goddamn do we love it.
But… what happened to delayed gratification? This isn’t a concept that’s in most of our lives any more (if it ever was), and it’s a crying shame.
To illustrate this, we’re going to run a little thought experiment with one of today’s prominent attention maimers: Netflix.
The company has been selling digital subscriptions to its video library since 2007. At the time, the company was already listed on the Nasdaq and its stock was selling for $3.71 a piece. Fast-forward to today, its stock’s worth around 100 times that.
Now, what if you went the route of delayed gratification? What if you bought Netflix stock, instead of a subscription? What if — and bear with us here — you invested the cost of that subscription (let’s say $10) each month into said stock?
Well, we’re going to show you. Why? Because we want you to feel bad.
This means it’s time for some interactive charts.
First, let’s see how much money you’ve spent so far on your Netflix subscription. You can do this by looking for your (rough) subscription’s start date in the x-axis. Then, while hovering over the red area, it’ll show you the amount of money you’ve given to Netflix. Test it here:
By the way, this only works if you haven’t interrupted your subscription.
Now, in the next chart below, look for the date you (approximately) signed up to Netflix again. The figure you get in return here is the total stock value (in dollars) you would have accumulated if you bought $10 of Netflix stock every month you’ve been subscribed.
Don’t freak out. Well, unless you had a subscription before 2012 — in that case you’re entitled to a little bit, because you could’ve made between $8,000 and $46.000 (numbers accurate as of publishing date, at a stock price of $360). Which means you could have treated yourself to this particular AIRPLANE.
Finally, to make things even worse, the last chart shows the difference between how much you’ve paid in total for your subscription and your potential stock earnings. Again, you probably know the drill by now, just look for the date you signed up and hover over it to find out your ‘loss’.
So, there you have it. Our digital media addiction is costlier than you might think. Why else would companies force us into subscription models?
Hopefully, at the very least, this little thought experiment will make you ponder how you spend your time and money. Now, let’s start focusing on delayed gratification and — importantly — get filthy rich.
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